Former Police drummer Stewart Copeland: My favourite photograph
“Here’s me seizing a photo opportunity when we were in Argentina in the mid-1980s during a Police world tour. Horses are a big passion of mine so I was happy to oblige with a ‘Hi-yo Silver, away!’ pose and it makes me laugh because it’s me as a rock star who will do anything for the shot like, ‘If there’s a camera running, I’ll do it.’
My love of horses began when I was at boarding school in Somerset, where my family moved in the 1960s. Polo was one of the activities there, so I learned to ride, although it wasn’t until many years later when I ended up getting the obligatory rock-star country estate that I kept horses and frittered away my summers playing polo. That’s much better than developing a drug habit.
Over the years I broke a rib, broke a collarbone and got dented all kinds of ways before eventually I traded all the horses in for children. I’ve got seven kids and four grandchildren now. The Copelands are breeding like flies.
My own childhood, prior to my time in England, was spent in Cairo and Beirut. I was born in Virginia but my father’s work for the CIA took us overseas and Beirut is the place I remember most. It’s where
I kissed my first girlfriend and played in my first band, taking up the drums because I was a late bloomer, a squeaky little kid, and playing drums was a way of making more noise than I could as a little pipsqueak.
I remember playing at the American Embassy beach club when I was 12, seeing the girl of my dreams dancing to the music I was making and thinking, ‘This is for me.’
After boarding school in Somerset, I spent some time in the States, returning to England in the 1970s to work as a road manager. Then myself, Sting and Andy Summers [who replaced the original guitarist] got together as The Police and it felt like we were on to something, which proved to be true.
As the youngest of four in my family and a quiet skinny kid that no one paid much attention to, being famous was fantastic.
But there was a weird sense of vertigo where all the rules that apply to normal people don’t apply to you; you feel like the whole world is watching you and that everything you do has repercussions. It was a real blast but, I must admit, it was a relief when we broke up.
Getting to write film soundtracks meant I could immerse myself in making music without being a product and without having to take the heat. Learning how to work with an orchestra was a byproduct that enabled me to branch out into orchestral composition, which has been deeply rewarding.
For the past 10 summers, I’ve also been performing with my buddy, the conductor and arranger Vittorio Cosma, in Italy, where the agenda has been pasta and la dolce vita and just having a great time. That’s how the new band Gizmodrome came about and suddenly I’m back in the rock world.
I don’t keep horses any more because it’s so all engrossing.
It’s not just about riding them, it’s about caring for them and training them and obsessing over things like lumps on their hooves. But I still ride.
My other pleasures in life?
That’d be my family and rolling around on the floor with my grandkids. I’ve learned how to entertain them on a Saturday morning while napping. I pretend to be asleep, then if they get too close I grab them and they laugh hysterically, although sometimes I am actually asleep.”
Gizmodrome’s self-titled album is out now.
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